Senate votes to freeze pay for Congress

Senate lawmakers on Thursday voted to scrap 2011 pay raises for members of Congress.

"Not many Americans have the power to give themselves a raise whenever they want, no matter how they are performing," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who sponsored the bill. "Yet Congress has set up a system whereby every year members automatically get a pay increase without having to lift a finger. I refuse to be a part of that system, and I will continue to work to permanently end it."

The Senate voted unanimously on the measure, which would deny members of Congress the $1,600 pay raise they were scheduled to receive next year. The House has not acted yet on the legislation. Congress voted against a 2010 pay raise as well. The last time legislators saw a salary boost was in 2009, when they received $5,000 increases.

Feingold long has crusaded against automatic pay raises for Congress. Last year, he introduced legislation (S. 317) to repeal the automatic pay raise for Congress and force lawmakers to actively pursue salary increases on their own if they wished. He pledged not to accept pay raises when he came to Congress, and returns the amount he is paid above his original salary to the general treasury.

President Obama proposed a 1.4 percent pay raise in 2011 for civilian federal employees and members of the military in his fiscal 2011 budget.

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